Monday, August 31, 2009


One benefit of lying awake a few hours at night (something that has happening with increasing frequency) is the extra reading time. This weekend I picked up a book that has been staring at me for sometime - the faith/conversion story of Joe Eszterhas. Joe is a screenwriter whose movies have made over a billion dollars (that's right - BILLION with a B.) But these weren't feel good movies like The Princes Bride, or something spiritual like The Passion of Christ. His were pretty much the extreme opposite - ones like Basic Instinct and Showgirls (and if you've not heard of either, you can probably guess their content based on the titles).

His book Crossbearer is a memoir of this journey from self-reliance to Christ-reliance. His story doesn't go into great detail about his days in Hollywood, but he shares enough to let you know that most nights followed the same routine: different girl, lots of coke (and not the classic kind), a fifth of gin, and lots of cigarettes. Since this routine isn't part of The Maker's Diet, you can imagine that his health was not the best when he hit 50. The story begins when he is diagnosed with throat cancer, comes to the end of himself, and cries out for God's help.

This is not your normal "I'm a Christian now and everything is perfect" story that one might expect. He shares his struggles and failures as he continues to learn what it means to live as a Christian. Some of his struggles are humorious - like the time that he hauled a guy out of church - yelling at him to never bother him again, or how he wears Rolling Stones T-shirts while carrying the Cross up the aisle (primarily, it appears, to irritate the more prudish/legalistic members of the congregation). Other parts are sad, like the fact that he is still estranged from his oldest daughter, having recently let three years pass without sharing a word together because of a disagreement over her boy friend.

What was refreshing about this book was his perspective on the importance of being in a community of believers - and his willingness to accept the good with the bad. He attends a catholic church, and started attending in the midst of the pedophile-priests scandals. He rightly emphasizes the horrific nature of this tragedy, yet he's not willing to cast aside the church because of it. Each time he starts to send anyone connected with the church down the road (a practice he perfected as a hard-driving screen writer), he has a conversation or an experience where someone is quick to remind him of his flaws and inconsistencies. His humility in this regard is refreshing... is the church full of hypocrites? Of course, but we are all hypocrites on some level.

He also tells of his flirtation with an evangelical mega-church and their all-star, leading man power-pastor. The experience left them wanting: "Yes, the sermon had been great... but as moving as the sermon had been, that's how empty the service itself had felt." Even though they had been struggling through the 5-minute homilies at the Catholic church, they were ready to run back. They missed the community they had developed, and more importantly, they really missed taking communion. He says,

“We had talked so much about the lack of powerful, moving homilies in the Catholic church, and here we had experienced as powerful and moving a sermon as it was possible to experience… and we suddenly didn’t care about it. We cared about trying to find a Mass [to take communion]. The powerful sermon ultimately didn’t matter. We needed Communion, the body and blood of Christ, like two starved vampires needing to feed on Christ’s grace."

He is no perfect man, nor is he a theologian, so don't expect that you will agree with all of his views. This book is not perfect either - having a fair amount of profanity gracing its pages - and no chapter breaks (but still reads well). Overall it is a refreshing, engaging read that left me encouraged because of the power of Christ to take a man, who was dying in spirit and body, and make a new creation. When one considers how far Mr. Eszterhas has come, it is a humbling and inspiring story.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Do Again

Just listened to a powerful story of a couple that remarried after being divorced for seven years. I was pretty emotional at the end when she described the moment that they told their twin daughters they were going to get remarried. What a story!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

You can order their book here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Faithful Son

My son brought me this trading card today:

He said he found it on the street.
Clearly the providence of the Lord!